Mermaid InnMermaid Inn
Mermaid Inn

Take a look inside the most haunted pub in Sussex

Dare you stay in this haunted Sussex 600 year old inn where virtually every room has its own resident ghost?

Set on a cobbled hill in the historic town of Rye, the charming Grade 2 Mermaid Inn is one of the most photographed buildings in Sussex.

But the idyllic looking Inn, which dates from 1420 also has a reputation for its many ghostly residents. The Mermaid has had a turbulent history, once being the favoured gathering spot for the notorious smugglers The Hawkhurst Gang, who were said to drink there with their loaded pistols on the table in front of them.

So famous is the Mermaid for its ghosts, it was once the subject to an investigation by Most Haunted – the paranormal TV reality show. The Elizabethan Room was said to be the scene of a duel involving two sword wielding men described as wearing "16th-century clothing.

Many unexplained light anomalies have been recorded in the middle of the night. On one occasion an employee was tending to the fireplace when all of the bottles on the bottle shelf at the other end of the room fell off. The ghost of a maid is said to be present in the inn; she was the girlfriend of one of the smugglers of the Hawkhurst Gang and was killed by his fellow gang members as they feared she knew too much and would expose them.

Other ghosts reportedly sighted at The Mermaid, include that of the lady in grey or white who sits by the fireplace, a white lady who walks across a room and stops at the foot of the bed and the apparition of a man who walks through the bathroom wall and into the main room. Unexplained cold spots have been reported as well as a rocking chair rocking independently.

In The Elizabethan Bedchamber, there have been reported incidents a duel being fought in the room and the loser then being thrown down the stairs of the secret passage. The body would have landed in the part of the hotel that is now the bar. A night camera was set up by a guest, a short time ago, and movement of swords was picked up, and during the night, the shadow of a “figure” could be seen on the film in the corner of the room. A week or so later the guest sent in some photographs he had taken of the room and the same shadow of a “figure” could be seen in the corner of the room. We have tried from all angles to recapture this shadow on the camera but it has proved impossible.

In the Kingsmill Room On occasions, it has appeared to suddenly go terribly cold in the room and the rocking chair in there would start to rock for no apparent reason. The chambermaids would only clean the room in pairs as they did not like to be in there by themselves.

In the Nutcracker Suite a ‘Lady –in-White’ has been seen to walk through from the single room across the main room, and through the door, stooping at the foot of the bed for the moment on her way past.

An American lady sleeping in the single room of the Hawkhurst Suite, reported that a gentleman in old-fashioned clothes had sat on her bed during the night. When he would not go away, she pulled her mattress into the double room, where her sons were sleeping, and stayed there until morning.

In The James Rooms, there have been lots of reports of a ‘Lady in White (or Grey)’. Who has been seen to sit in the chair by the fireplace. Guests, many weeks apart, have recounted the same story of having left their clothes on this chair during the night and when they have woken in the morning, they have found their clothes all wet. There are no windows or pipes near the chair!

A couple reported to reception about two years ago, that whilst spending the night in this room, the husband had been amazed to see a family consisting of what appeared to be a mother, father and child walk through the wall to the other side of the room as he lay in bed.

But The Mermaid’s Haunted reputation hasn’t put visitors off from flocking to it. It has delightful bedrooms with four-poster beds, two comfortable lounges and a cosy bar with one of the largest log fire places in the country. It also boats a pretty terrace and a courtyard garden and is known for the high quality of its locally sourced food, with an AA Rosette-winning restaurant.

The Mermaid has traditionally been used as the venue for the Mayoral meal after Mayor Making ceremonies in the historic town.

Famous personages of the day who have stayed at the Inn, include Lord Alfred Douglas, Henry Dodge the American motorcar magnate and Ford Maddox Ford the novelist. Other visitors include Dame Ellen Terry the actress and the writers Hilaire Belloc, Henry James, Rupert Travers and Ben Travers.

If you are a would-be ghost hunter and you want to see the Mermaid for yourself, then owner Judith Blincow offers Guided Tours through the 600 year old building. Tours can be pre booked. Contact Reception through [email protected] or 01797223065. All they ask is for a donation to the Mermaid’s Charity, The National Deaf Children’s Society.

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